Liz, Impact Day
A splash of cold water roused me from unconsciousness. I was chained to an uncomfortably metal chair. Aidan was beside me, dripping wet and looking slightly confused.
“So, there are more of you?” a well dressed man with a featureless face asked, pacing in front of us.
It took a few moments to get my bearings. We were in a small room with concrete walls, no windows, and a single door. The door was metal, looked heavy.
“Maybe you’ll be easier to break than your friend,” the man said, sneering with unsettling self-satisfaction.
“Where are we?” Aidan asked, looking around.
“Captured,” I said.
“Enough small talk,” the suited man snapped. I looked up at him.
“Where’s Charlie?” I asked.
“None of your business,” he replied.
“I want to see her,” I insisted. “If you show me Charlie, I’ll answer any questions you want.”
“I think you’ll answer them anyway,” he said.
“Do we have to listen to this?” Aidan asked.
“Think you can find her without their help?” I asked in response.
“Pretty sure,” he said.
“Then no,” we don’t.
“We’ll separate you if we need,” the suited man said.
“Shut up,” I replied.
Breaking the chains was fairly easy. Honestly, I could have wriggled free of them without super-strength, though it would have taken longer and they probably would have noticed. Also, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get out of the room.
Aidan mimicked me, much to the suited man’s distress. He started to back away, pulling out a gun, but I got to him before he could pull the trigger. I twisted his wrist until he dropped it, then wrapped an arm around his neck until the lack of blood flow to his brain caused him to pass out.
Aidan kicked the door open, hitting it with enough force to leave a small dent. I suspected the doors weren’t as strong as they were supposed to look.
“So, where to?” I asked, as an alarm started blaring.
“Follow me,” he said, taking off to the left.
There were plenty of guards between us and the room they were keeping her, but they barely slowed us down. Bullets hurt, but not for long, and we had more than enough strength to overpower them. We didn’t even need to kill them, though a great many of them would wake up with concussions later. Hardly good, but there had to be some price for throwing their lot in with a gang like Vengeance.
The facility was huge, so much deeper than I’d have assumed from the outside. Frustratingly, they’d kept us pretty far from Charlie. I began to worry they’d have a chance to whisk her away somewhere before we could get to her. They wouldn’t fall for the same trick twice.
“Down this way,” Aidan said, ducking off to the side. I took out a thug who was aiming a pistol at my head by hitting him in the chest hard enough to snap several ribs. He dropped to the floor, wheezing and choking.
Aidan kicked a door open, and I rushed to his side, wanting to be there when Charlie saw her rescuers. Instead, the room was empty.
“What?” he asked, sticking his head in further.
“You’re sure you got the right room?” I asked, though I knew he did.
“This is where they were keeping her,” he said.
“Maybe they moved her,” I suggested.
“Well, we need to find her fast,” he replied.
My mind raced as I considered what they could have done with her. Next to me, I could tell Aidan was doing the same, running through the mental map of the facility.
“There are no easy escape routes,” he said. “And they haven’t had a lot of warning.”
“What about the interrogation room?” I asked. “Maybe they’re questioning her about us?”
“Good call,” he said, and the two of us took off again.
Thankfully, that room wasn’t far. Obviously, it was one of many, but this was the one we knew they used for her. As soon as we arrived, it confirmed it.
There were two unconscious guards outside the room, and inside, someone very dead.
“Do you think Charlie did this?” Aidan asked.
“I believe she could, but she wouldn’t kill,” I said.
“It’s been six months,” he pointed out. “Who knows what they did to her.”
I hadn’t even considered that. The amount of time we’d spent finding her, getting to her, finally saving her, she would have endured so much. The Charlie we were rescuing was not the same Charlie we’d lost.
That was a problem for later, though. First, we needed to figure out where she’d gone.
“Where would you go, if you were in her shoes?” Aidan asked.
“She doesn’t know the facility,” I said, thinking aloud. “She’d want to avoid being seen as much as possible, while figuring out where the exit might be.”
“Unless they told her about us,” Aidan said. “Which they probably did.”
“She’s probably avoiding being moved, so we can find her.”
“Close,” came a third voice, a familiar voice, behind us.
We turned. There she was, just the way we’d last seen her, only with longer, shaggier hair, and a slightly wild look in her eye.
“Charlie!” Aidan cried, rushing over to her. He wrapped her in a crushing hug, which she reciprocated.
She and I looked at each other, awkwardly. She moved towards me, embracing me in a more gentle, but no less enthusiastic hug.
“I can’t believe you’re here,” she said, beaming. “Not that I lost hope, but…”
“We finally got through to Wendy,” Aidan said. She stared back at him.
“That explains the rescue, but… Where’s Rachel?”
“We can explain later,” he said, grabbing her arm. “Right now, we need to get you out of here.”
“No arguments here,” she said.
The three of us ran. Aidan led the way, and I carried Charlie on my back. It hardly slowed me down at all. The sensation was slightly addictive. It was almost a pity we’d need to give this power back to Wendy after.
The sensation of sunlight on my skin was invigorating, and sorely missed. I could only imagine how good it felt to Charlie.
“Guys… stop…” she said, sounding pained. Not what I’d have expected. I let her down.
She collapsed to the ground, clutching her stomach. Aidan and I exchanged worried glances.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, kneeling beside her.
“Get away!” she said, nearly shouting, through gritted teeth and an increasingly red face.
“Charlie?” I asked, as Aidan backed off.
“They… fuck… I can feel it…” she said, struggling to breathe. “There’s a… hnng… in my stomach, a… fucking… a bomb.”
Aidan and I took a bigger step back.
“No,” he whispered.
“A final fallback plan, in case she escaped?” I asked. He just shrugged. “What do we do?”
“Find… me…” she said, groaning in agony.
We took another step away, as a blindingly bright explosion filled the air between us. Everything about it felt surreal, like it was happening far, far away.
The light, the burning sensation, the shockwave, the deafening sound, all of those sensations completely overwhelmed, and all of them happened all at once, vying for supremacy. We were thrown back, and it was obvious that without Wendy’s blood, we wouldn’t have survived. Even still, it was incredibly painful.
I recovered from the disorientation before Aidan did, rushing towards the smoking crater left on the ground. There was no sign of Charlie at all.
Aidan joined me, looking frantically around as the burned skin on his entire front half began to heal.
“Where is she?” he asked.
“Gone,” I said.
“Bullshit,” he said. “She regenerates, no matter what. That’s what Rachel said.”
“There’s no piece here for her to regenerate from,” I told him.
“We just have to wait,” he said.
And so we waited. We waited until Vengeance thugs began pouring out of the facility, guns aimed at us, and she still hadn’t appeared.
“Maybe they kept a piece of her,” Aidan suggested, as we ran for cover. There were too many of them to take on, and we were still recovering from the explosion.
“We have to go back in, then,” I said.
“The facility would take hours to explore,” he replied. “And now they’re ready for us.”
“So, what, we just leave her here?” I asked. “We don’t get a second chance at this!”
“I didn’t say that, just…”
“I’m going back in,” I said. “I’ll wipe out their whole fucking gang if I have to. I am not abandoning her, not now.”
He looked at me, then back at the advancing thugs.
“Fuck,” he muttered. “She is gonna owe us big time for this.”
Next Week: That Was A Horrible Experience